PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs was surrounded by registered nurses participating in a one-day strike in solidarity with RNs at other Tenet facilities Friday.
The picketers, who are members of the California Nurses Association, are demanding a fair contract, with terms that includes management expand nursing staff at hospitals statewide.
They say the staff shortages are stretching employees thin, which can increases the chance of medical errors and other negative consequences for patients and employees.
"We fight for our patients at the bargaining table at the bedside every day that we work," said Amy Gutierrez, a registered nurse.
The association said that information provided by Tenet showed the company paid out a total of nearly $8 million dollars in penalty pay to RNs from 2016 to 2018 for more than 140,000 missed meal breaks in the eight California hospitals holding the picket.
Gutierrez said she usually works a 12-hour shift, often without a break.
"It's hit-and-miss, sometimes we have break nurses sometimes we don't. They do pay the penalty if we don't get the break, but we want to make sure that the bottom line is that our nurses are always getting breaks," Guiterrez told News Channel 3.
Todd Burke, communications director for Tenet, told News Channel 3 the strike is not constructive or necessary.
"...be assured that Desert Regional Medical Center is staffed with qualified and experienced replacement nurses ... We are disappointed that the union is taking this strike action," Burke said.
The strike began at 7 a.m. and is set to go until 6:59 a.m. Saturday. The hospital remained fully staffed with strike nurses and completely operational.
A rally outside the Desert Regional Medical Center campus is planned for noon.
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